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The Umbrella Academy - Season 1 - Advance Preview + Dialogue Teasers

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Netflix’s latest Superhero offering comes in the form of The Umbrella Academy, based on the award-winning comics created and written by Gerard Way (of My Chemical Romance) and illustrated by Gabriel Bá. Steve Blackman, who previously ran Fargo and Legion is helming the show as showrunner, and directors include Andrew Bernstein (Castle Rock, Ozark), and Jeremy Webb (Doctor Who, The Punisher), and Peter Hoar (The Last Kingdom, Daredevil) who’s work in the final episode I cannot praise highly enough, he brings together the strands of the story together in spectacular fashion.

Unusually for Netflix, the titles for the show are one of the shortest I’ve seen. We simply get ‘The Umbrella Academy’ etched onto an umbrella, which may either spring open suddenly next to a character making them jump, or be on the page in a book when one is leafing through it, or any other manner of surprising place within a scene. It’s a method I think works, and by the third episode you may well find yourself scanning the screen trying to predict where it will appear this time.

The background to the story is that on one day back in 1989, forty-three children are born to random women across the globe, all of whom showed no signs of being pregnant that morning. An eccentric billionaire called Sir Reginald Hargreeves decides to buy as many of them as he can, and manages to successfully ‘adopt’ seven of them. He brings them back to his Umbrella Academy and then trains them to become crime fighters because most of them have a special power he believes will be helpful in saving the world.

Sir Reginald is not what many would call the best of father figures though, in fact his lack of care when it comes to the general wellbeing of the children could rightly be labelled as abuse at times. He doesn’t even give them names, instead referring to them as a number according to how useful they are to him. Which is why, as they grow into their teens, they rebel and start to leave home one by one, until only Number One is left faithful to him. But even that loyalty doesn’t get rewarded, as he is then sent away from home to live in isolation on the moon, ostensibly to observe any threats that may be seen from space.

As premises go, it ticks all the boxes for a strongly character led, bonkers, action show, and I understand that the popularity of the graphic novels is in part due to how much these characters are loved. The casting has to be right in order to make the transition work, however. Firstly, I have to admit that I am coming into the fandom as a non-reader of the material – though I have purchased Volume One to dig into as soon as possible – so I can’t speak for how well they have done with realising the parts over into the show. I do know that both Gerard and Gabriel are on board as co-executive producers, as are Dark Horse Entertainment, so although I know there are some slight changes, I am hoping that most of characters will still be intact as originally written.

Having said that, as a new viewer I think the casting has been superbly realised. The leads work well as both individuals and, more importantly in my opinion, as a family unit. There is a very real sense of the year’s old resentments between them, and oh so many complicated stories of shared trauma, rivalry, or love that build up as the season progresses. Yet, at the same time, you can sense how an unspoken bond is there from the very moment they are first gathered together again after the death of Sir Reginald. Ah, perhaps this is a good moment to mention that not all seven babies have made it thus far, which, for tween’s forced into a crime fighting lifestyle I guess is no real surprise. One of them had a barely mentioned in the show, but has to be assumed horrific, death and therefore only six make it to attend Sir Reginald’s wake back at the manor house they grew up in.

The family are made up of Luther (Tom Hopper), who has great physical strength and as Number One was responsible for leading the group when they were younger and encouraged to make – the right!! – decisions by Hargreeves. Diego (David Castañeda) is number Two, and as such felt a certain amount of rivalry towards the leadership of his brother. He’s shit hot at throwing knives, never missing target even round corners, and is currently a lone wolf superhero who has the occasional run in with the local cops due to his risky endeavours. Number Three is Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), who has the unusual power of being able to persuade anyone into doing anything she pleases by whispering it to them, which is something that’s open to abuse if she’s not careful.

Klaus (Robert Sheehan) as Number Four is easy to write off as an ineffective drug addict, perpetually chasing that high so that his power to communicate with the dead fizzles out, but his story is one of the meatier ones as time progresses. Number Five (Aidan Gallagher) went missing as a young teen after an argument with ‘father’, accidentally teleporting himself into the apocalyptic future he warns his siblings about upon finally being able to return to the present. I understand that in the comics he is aged around ten, but I think they were right to make the change and go with a slightly more mature actor. Gallagher really does a fantastic job as the old man stuck in a young body shtick; I particularly enjoyed his screen time spent with Dolores.

Which leaves us with Number Seven, or Vanya (Ellen Page), who is the one who feels excluded from the family due to the fact that she doesn’t have any powers, aside from being a kickass violinist that is. Her main concern is worrying that she will never be good enough to take the First Chair position in the orchestra, which is rather mundane compared to her superhero siblings’ problems. Not that her family actually spend much time being superheroes. In fact, they are more likely to be found either arguing with, or bitching about, each other somewhere in the Academy. Well, no, that’s unfair, there is a fair bit of reminiscing that goes on too.

In many ways this is a show about how broken-down family life can get, and how you get past mistakes both you and the people you love unconditionally have made. That’s the real heart of the story I feel, these characters have spent twelve years apart holding onto resentments that need sorting out between each other. It takes their adopted father’s death to bring them back together in order for that to start happening, and even then, it’s a rocky road as they begin working out their differences and realise how much they mean to each other.

Much of the set action pieces come from a couple of time travelling assassins, who are obviously connected to Number Five as he is a teleporting, time traveller himself. I don’t want to give too much away about these two, especially as I understand that both their roles are larger than they are in the comics. Hazel (Cameron Britton) and Cha-Cha (Mary J. Blige) are larger than life, gun toting, sugar loving career criminals who wear giant animal masks when they’re on a job. They are going to make things difficult for our Academy gang, but like all good bungling sidekick plots, they have problems of their own which begin to creep into their work ethics and causes tension between them.

As a fan of Harold Pinter, I couldn’t help but compare Hazel and Cha-Cha to some of his characters (in particular Ben and Gus from The Dumb Waiter, but a few others were there also), and I would love to know if that was intentional or not. In fact, it seems that the show is bursting with Easter Eggs and nods to other works of art and literature. Some are instantly recognisable but others are far more inconspicuous, perhaps only being distinguishable if you are aware of a certain play or performer’s career, for example. As I say, I haven’t read the comics yet so I don’t know if this is something which is a carry-over from them, perhaps someone with more knowledge could help me out in the comments below? Either way, it is apparent that a lot of work has gone into making this more than your average comic book show, and Netflix have produced a series which is not only bingeable but also has considerable rewatchability value too.

The Umbrella Academy is released globally on Netflix on Friday 15th February, below are a few teasers – some spoilery words are removed – from each episode to see you through until then. Don’t forget to come back to the site after the series launches and let us know what you thought in our poll and discussion thread.


“What is she doing here? You don’t belong here, not after what you did”

“Thank Christ he wasn’t our real father so we couldn’t inherit those cold dead eyes”


“Dad always used to say that time travel could mess up your mind. Maybe, that’s what’s happening?”

“Well, not so much good times as really awful, terrible, depressing times”


“But ***, she’s not capable of…is she?”

“This might be a little inappropriate seeing as I’m your impressionable, young student. But, would you want to have dinner with me tonight?”


“I was fine. Alright, I am fine, and I don’t need your help”

“Look, you want to blame me or blame us, for leaving, that’s ok. But maybe you’re asking yourself the wrong question. Maybe it’s not about why we left, maybe it’s about why you stayed”


“This was clutched in your dead hand when I found you. Must have ripped it out of their *** right before you went down”

“Well, maybe if you carried it once in a while we wouldn’t have this problem to begin with. My physiotherapist isn’t even covered by insurance, you don’t hear me complaining”


“There’s nothing fair about being your sister. I have been left out of everything for as long as I can remember”

“This is highly unacceptable behaviour. You both know that fun and games are restricted to Saturday’s between noon and half-past noon”


“You have no power. You never will have power. Now, go home”

“This world is ending, and here you are only thinking about getting your dick wet”


“Oh, come on. Don’t be so shy big guy, you needed it. Not a lot of ladies on the moon I assume”

“Anything else you want to share ***? Any other damn secrets? No, I won’t calm down. We’ve been lied to by the one person in the family we all trusted”


“He’s someone like us. A lonely boy, an outsider whose family was cruel to him”

“Hey, I am sober. I’ve been sober for tw…almost two days now. It feels like forty-five years”


“What’s worse is *** is still alive, on the loose, and trying to stop the apocalypse”

“If only Sir Reginald could see us right now. The Umbrella Academy, a total failure”

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